SCDI Forum 2011

March 28, 2011 by · View Comments 

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The SCDI Forum at St Andrews had its usual rich mix of people, topics and ideas. It’s the only environment I know that brings together such diversity in our society. Politics, Business, the Arts, Charities, local and national Government and Trade Unions coming together in a series of very constructive conversations.

There were some challenging figures flying around whether about our economic productivity, the demographic challenges we face or the hard realities on energy consumption and its impact. Some people did get a little bogged down in the negative but there were plenty of positive thoughts and practical ideas, whether from James Smith of Shell, Kevin Sneader of McKinsey or 16 year old Rory Elrick from Jordanhill School. The “unthinkable thoughts” from the Scot10 Panel offered more challenge and insight

Our challenge is to do something with all that came out of these sessions. As last year, the need to collaborate was the most prevalent theme. I’m reminded of the Billy Connelly piece where he tells of his music teacher putting on a record and shouting at the class to “Appreciate! Appreciate!” While success on the Renewables front is a positive exception, there was a lot of talk about “Collaborate! Collaborate!” but not a lot of hard action.

Wouldn’t it be good if next year we can come together and share lessons on collaboration around the big opportunities for Scotland? Success and failure will both bring lessons.

Simple exhortation to collaborate is not enough. People need to come together where they can see a real pay-off, whether personal, organisational or wider interest.

We’ll play our part. One issue could be around driving greater value from our Higher Education Institutes for their individual and collective advantage and for the economic and societal benefit of the country.

So what are the other key issues that will benefit from collaborative approaches and who needs to come together? Poverty?  Sustainable development – at speed?  Leadership capacity across sectoral boundaries?

About Paul Foley

Paul Foley has written 4 articles on this blog.

Founding director of Kynesis

  • davidlongshanks

    Thanks for the summary and I can’t help but think that direct conversations between commerce and academia rather than (from what I have seen – frankly uninspiring and unsuccessful) KTP’s deal with needs and demands of both parties: students in “shop window” of prospective employers; business in touch with fresh perspectives/new ideas (R&D) and identifying potential recruits for projects/short/long term.

    We need to build and interdependent and sustainable future from the bottom. From conversation can come understanding (and trust), collaboration and innovation.

    We have all the tools to facilitate dialogue like never before. The need has never been greater and Scotland has a proud reputation to repair so we can’t continue to get hung up on the protracted processes that are obstacles to building a more resilient future!


  • Paul Foley

    Thanks for the comment David. I see two directions.
    First, as you say, from the bottom up. Those who can need to facilitate front line conversations but not feel they have to control them. Help make connections, create a supportive environment and see what emerges.
    Second there are the big opportunities around specific issues on a regional or national scale. People with access to resource (intellectual, financial, political, place – whatever) need to come together and suspend their professional / organisational identities. They need to look at what’s required to achieve the outcome (zero-based planning) rather than what their traditional silos have always offered. With the latter we just get more of the same – a more efficient way of not solving the problem.

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